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Rhododendron calendulaceum

This plant has poison characteristics. See below.
Common Name(s):
Flame azalea
Chatooga , Cherokee , Richard Beilski
Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs

Rhododendron calendulaceum, commonly known as flame azalea, is an upright, loosely branched deciduous shrub that typically matures to 4-8' (infrequently to 10-15’) tall and to 8-10’ wide. It is native primarily to woodland slopes and mountain balds in the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania to Georgia.

It needs a few hours of direct sun.  It is a slow plant to become established.  It is loosely branched plant with an upright habit.  It's excellent for naturalistic landscape.

This species is an important parent of many deciduous azalea hybrids.

The common name of flame azalea is in reference to the purported resemblance of the upright flower buds to candle flames.

The bath is thin and gray-brown with a finely shredded apearance.

Regions:  Mountain

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:   Spring, summer           Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer

Wildlife Value:    

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: 

Wildlife Value: Flowers of the Flame azalea attract hummingbirds.  Members of the genus Rhododendron support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Andrena) cornelli. This plant tolerates browsing by rabbits.  This plant is frequently damaged by deer.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Rhododendrons are susceptible to insect and disease problems.  Insect problems include aphids, borers, lacebugs, leafhoppers, mealybugs, mites, nematodes, scale, thrips and whitefly.  Diseases include canker, crown rot, root rot, leaf spot, rust, and powdery mildew.  Full sun can scortch the leaves and the roots rot if soil does not drain well.   A healthy plant in the right place with proper maintenance should have few problems. This plant is frequently damaged by deer.

4-8 ft.
The leaves of the Flame azalea are medium green (1-3” long), elliptic to obovate with yellow-red fall color. They are alternate, simple with either smooth or toothed margins.
The Flame azalea has funnel-shaped, usually non-fragrant flowers (2” diameter) that bloom in loose trusses (5-10 flowers per truss) in May-June. The flowers have exserted (protruding) showy stamens. Variable flower color ranges from yellow to orange to red.
5 to 7
The Flame azalea is best grown in acidic, light, sandy, well-drained soils in part shade. It tolerates well-drained humusy loams. Does not prosper in areas with high summer temperatures, and is not recommended for planting south off USDA Zone 7. It prefers a sun dappled shade or high open part shade. Its foliage may scorch in full sun unless soils are kept uniformly moist. Consistent moisture is best, but soils must drain well (doesn’t like “wet feet”). Poor drainage inevitably leads to root rot, therefore raised beds/plantings should be considered in heavy clay soils. The roots must never be allowed to dry out. Acidify soils prior to planting and thereafter as needed. This shrub should be planted in a location protected from strong winter winds. It has a shallow, fibrous root systems (do not cultivate around shrubs) and will benefit from a good mulch (wood chips, bark or pine needles) for retention of moisture, stabilization of soil temperatures and winter protection. Clip off spent flower clusters immediately after bloom as practicable.
Upright; loosely branched
Partial shade; moist well drained soil
Poison Part:
All parts.
Poison Delivery Mode:
Salivation, watering of eyes and nose, abdominal pain, loss of energy, depression, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficult breathing, progressive paralysis of arms and legs, coma.
Toxic Principle:
Found in:
Houseplant or interiorscape; landscape as cultivated woody shrub; forest or natural area.
8-10 ft.
pollinator, rabbits, deciduous, fall color, drought, native, nectar, hedge, specialized bees, hummingbirds, bumble bees, wildlife, native bees, showy

NCCES plant id: 531

Rhododendron calendulaceum Form
Nick Turland, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Rhododendron calendulaceum Flower clusters
Nick Turland, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Rhododendron calendulaceum Flowers close-up
dogtooth77, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Rhododendron calendulaceum Rhododendron calendulaceum
JR P, CC BY-NC-2.0